At Large

Kidnapped

Baghdad pirates deal in helpless human cargo.

By 8.3.05

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BAGHDAD -- Here is a story I just heard a few minutes ago from our crew of surveyors. All five of them were classmates at Baghdad U. where they received their engineering degrees together, perhaps ten years ago.

They have another classmate named Saffar (unknown to me) who had a brother-in-law who was kidnapped a while back. The kidnappers finally were able to extort $5,000 from the family for the return of the guy. It was much less than they had demanded, but it was all the family could scrape together. When they received the ransom, they were apparently so annoyed that they delivered the dead body of the brother-in-law and dumped it in front of the house. As a result, Saffar's relatives felt the old house was "haunted" and moved out and went to Jordan.

Saffar fretted about what to do with the house. As he was considering his options, he was approached by a couple of policemen who were looking for a house in which to live in Baghdad. Saffar rented it to them.

After a couple of weeks, Saffar started to hear reports from some of the neighbors that perhaps the cops were turning the place into a party house. He decided one evening last week to pay a visit to see what was going on.

When he arrived at the house and knocked on the door, he was greeted by a man he didn't recognize. The fellow said he was a friend of the tenants and was just using the house to relax and have a cup of "chai." Saffar decided that the guy seemed unusually nervous for someone just having a cup of chai, so he decided to look around. Inside one of the upstairs bedrooms he found Dr. Osman, a local pharmacist, who had been kidnapped the day before. Osman was bound hand and foot. The chai drinker, realizing the jig was up, bolted for the door. Saffar quickly fired a few warning shots and the guy stopped. Saffar then freed Dr. Osman and delivered the guy to the police.

I suppose that's bad enough but it's not the whole story. The real story is that Dr. Osman was actually kidnapped from his store by the police who arrived in full uniform and a brand new Police Department SUV. They then took him to the "safe house" rented by their two colleagues and were in the process of "selling" him to criminal gangs who would then take over the nasty part of seeking ransom and perhaps, in the end, killing Osman.

If our surveyors are correct, the Baghdad police are deep into the business of kidnapping people and "selling" their victims to the "pros" for a very high price. They then let the pros deal with the rest of it: collecting ransom, killing the victims, whatever!

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